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  1. #1
    Gotta catch you all! Blackmail!'s Avatar
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    Default Political bias and Social relationships

    Today, I will tell you a tale.

    ---

    In the laboratory where I work, we have several doctorate students. One of them is a Greek girl from Ioannina (Epirus, northwestern Greece).
    Both her parents teach in the University of Ioaninna, she obviously comes from a rich, educated milieu. Politically, she also pretends to be rather on the left, to be socially progressive.

    But yesterday, I made the awful mistake to ask her a few questions about the Albanians who used to live in Epirus. You know, this area used to belong to Albanians: no Greek really lived there before the 17th century. And Albanians were the proud descendants of the Illyrians, an antique people. So you can say this area belonged to them for millenias. Until very recently, Albanian folk used to represent up to 86% of the people living there, according to various Ottoman census of the 19th century.

    You can guess that when you notice that there is no old churches in Ioannina, only old mosques. As a matter of fact, these Albanians were ethnically cleansed by the Greek government, which killed dozens of thousand of them in the process. Most of current-day Greeks that live in the Epirus area are in fact settlers who came when the Turks expelled the Greek communities from Asia, so that's fairly recent.

    And the surviving Albanians that were expelled settled in return to a region called Kosovo, where they suddenly became a majority. So you see: Balkans are shaped like dominos. One people cleanses another people, that cleanses another people, that cleanses another people... It's like musical chairs. The process never really ends, even today.

    Anyway.

    As soon as I mentioned the fate of the poor Albanians, this Greek girl suddenly got very upset. More than upset, in fact. Suddenly, I had to fight against a twirling stream of violent nationalistic cliches: how the Turks stole the Greek lands, why the Republic of Macedonia should be expelled out of Europe, why Smyrna should be retaken by military force... and so on... and so on. And of course, the Albanians of Epirus never existed at all... they just were a kind of "foreign worthless invaders" that had "false claims"... and so on... and so on.

    It was disconcerting: I only pronounced two sentences. It took me twenty seconds (at most), and she replied with twenty minutes of yellings. A real firework.

    ---

    During months, this intelligent girl was absolutely charming with everybody, including myself. Nice, polite, hard working.... But since yesterday, she doesn't want to say a single word to me. She doesn't even want to cross my sight (and it's difficult, since the laboratory is rather small, and since she's only a student while I'm a teacher).

    And since she's only halfway in her PhD, I predict that this absurd situation might continue for a very long time (two years, maybe?).

    ---

    Anyway.

    I think everybody has been confronted to that kind of attitude, one day or another. That's how people falsify history, and replace it with fascistic horrible lies. And because it touches Identity, they suddenly become completely irrational, and possibly violent.

    For instance, I should not advise anyone to mention the Armenian genocide in front of a Turk. Or the Kosovo issue in front of a Serb. Or the Jerusalem issue in front of an Arab, or an orthodox Jew.

    Even people that were previously nice with you, that you would have considered as true friends, that you invited home several times, could suddenly turn into fierce animals, erupting with torrents of sheer hatred. Even the most sympathetic hippie-like pacifist militant could suddenly turn into a kind of far-right militiaman.

    ---

    So my question could be: have you already experienced a similar tale?

    How could you explain the underlying mechanism?

    Do you think everybody has "forbidden questions" you should never mention in front of him/her?
    (We ENTPs should learn that more often)
    "A man who only drinks water has a secret to hide from his fellow-men" -Baudelaire

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  2. #2
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    Well, that must be a taboo subject for Greeks(generally, or at least those from that area).

    If you want to regain good relations with this girl, you're going to have to be the bigger person and swallow your pride and explain that you meant nothing by it.

    EDIT: How did this subject come up?

  3. #3
    Boring old fossil Night's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmail! View Post
    So my question could be: have you already experienced a similar tale?

    How could you explain the underlying mechanism?

    Do you think everybody has "forbidden questions" you should never mention in front of him/her?
    (We ENTPs should learn that more often)
    Great thread topic.

    'Forbidden' questions are generally those which consciously work to disrupt or challenge aspects of thought crucial to the fundamental identity of the individual. The subject matter varies from person to person, but generally involves things like ethics and politics to religion and morality. More often than not, trespassing on these sensitive ideological points will result in the individual essentially shutting themselves down from future discussion.

    I don't think that any issue should ever hold intractable importance such that it is not open to discussion. On the contrary, it is through discussion and shared experience that progressive mentalities are able to metamorph shared cultural heritage away from the quasi-censorship that we otherwise work to inflict upon ourselves when we discuss things of this nature.

  4. #4
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Probably everyone has forbidden questions, I'm guessing. Which is why you should only discuss politics in a contained environment, unless you wish to lose all your friends.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  5. #5
    Senior Member matmos's Avatar
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    This, Blackmail!, is what is called in your French une challange.

    Good luck.

  6. #6
    Listening Oaky's Avatar
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    But the other way around... I've an Armenian friend who whenever the opportunity comes will talk about the armenian genocide nonstop. They try to get as many people to acknowledge that it happened. When I talked about the issue to a Turkish friend of mine he didn't want to talk about it and says he's not sure it ever happened anyways. He avoided the subject altogether. One must be careful when talking about the history of one's ethnic roots as it may offend one's pride.

  7. #7
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    In the US, the historical third rails are usually among the following:

    Native American genocide (hell, we gamed the definition of genocide specifically so it wouldn't include this)
    Cold War interventionism/overthrowing of democratic governments (Iran, Latin America)
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    Vietnam
    Jim Crow, lynching and its lingering effects (not slavery, that's how we transfer our discomfort)
    Labor relations (hardly anyone in this country knows May Day came from Haymarket in Chicago)
    Social class

  8. #8
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    In the US, the historical third rails are usually among the following:

    Native American genocide (hell, we gamed the definition of genocide specifically so it wouldn't include this)
    Cold War interventionism/overthrowing of democratic governments (Iran, Latin America)
    Hiroshima and Nagasaki
    Vietnam
    Jim Crow, lynching and its lingering effects (not slavery, that's how we transfer our discomfort)
    Labor relations (hardly anyone in this country knows May Day came from Haymarket in Chicago)
    Social class
    I've yet to meet anyone who goes into tirades about these, though.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  9. #9
    Dreaming the life onemoretime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    I've yet to meet anyone who goes into tirades about these, though.
    You've got to hit it the right way. Since we're the global hegemon, we don't worry so much about justifying our actions... however, challenging our moral authority and the inherent goodness of Americans will raise several people's hackles.

    For example:

    "The slaughter of Native Americans during America's expansion was worse than Germany's actions during the Holocaust." (numerically correct, but there's a lot of context there)

    "The United States was just as bad as the Soviet Union during the Cold War, invading other nations, and people in those countries had legitimate reasons to support socialism and oppose the US"

    "The atomic bombings are some of the most horrific crimes against humanity ever perpetrated" (but WE HAD TO DO IT!)

    ...etc.

  10. #10
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onemoretime View Post
    You've got to hit it the right way. Since we're the global hegemon, we don't worry so much about justifying our actions... however, challenging our moral authority and the inherent goodness of Americans will raise several people's hackles.

    For example:

    "The slaughter of Native Americans during America's expansion was worse than Germany's actions during the Holocaust." (numerically correct, but there's a lot of context there)

    "The United States was just as bad as the Soviet Union during the Cold War, invading other nations, and people in those countries had legitimate reasons to support socialism and oppose the US"

    "The atomic bombings are some of the most horrific crimes against humanity ever perpetrated" (but WE HAD TO DO IT!)

    ...etc.
    I suppose so, but in the original post, it seemed that Blackmail! was talking about just the mention and general revisionist...ism. These "hitting it the right way" seems either 1) a matter of opinion or 2) conclusions based on insufficient evidence (in which case there is plenty of room for argument).

    Or am I just splitting hairs, as they did with the definition of genocide?
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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